Senior Spotlight: Katie Rhoten Posted on June 3rd, 2021 by

The “Senior Spotlight” series honors graduating fine arts majors for their contributions to the Gustavus community.

Katie Rhoten is a Dance and Psychological Science major with Honors from Eau Claire, Wis. She plans to take a gap year and work with children in some capacity during that time. She then hopes to attend graduate school related to child development. Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Jill Patterson has worked with Katie since her freshman year. “I remember Katie coming to my office the last week of classes her freshman year, and asking for things she could work on over the summer; she took copious notes, and was hungry to explore!  It was incredibly endearing and energizing to meet someone so open to self-exploration. That hasn’t changed one bit—without being too self-critical, Katie seems to be on a constant search to add a plethora of layers to her movement vocabulary. It is a pure joy to watch her explore and move,” Patterson says. 

We asked Katie to give us a little insight into her time at Gustavus and what her future plans are.

What will you miss most about dance at Gustavus?

KR: I will certainly miss the camaraderie, support, and joy that I found while being in the dance community at Gustavus. The community that is the dance department transformed classmates into some of my best friends – and I will miss being able to see my friends in and out of the classroom everyday. I will also miss dancing and learning from my peers and professors. It truly feels like I have a second family within the dance department and it’s bittersweet to be preparing to say “see you later” to these wonderful individuals who helped me along my journey at Gustavus.

What’s a favorite memory you have from your time in dance at Gustavus?

KR: There are so many wonderful memories it’s hard to choose! But overall, I’d say every instance where I was able to dance in a piece for Shared Space or Choreographer’s Gallery (both are concerts that showcase student choreographed works). In these spaces, I was able to get to know other dancers and truly bond with them which made me feel like I was part of a community. I have so many fun memories and have made many friendships from these rehearsals.

What is the most interesting class you’ve taken at Gustavus and why?

KR: One of the most interesting classes I’ve taken at Gustavus was Psychology of Sexual Assault with Dr. Holmgreen. While this class focused on a heavy subject, particularly one that can be overwhelming and hard to comprehend at times, Dr. Holmgreen was a very supportive and understanding professor and the empirical literature that she had us read was truly fascinating. The class challenged me to think deeply and in new ways about this type of violence and social problem, and it enabled me to do my own literature review on educational programming that aims to reduce rape myths and violence on college campuses.

What professor has made the biggest impact on you and why?

KR: There are SO many Gustavus professors that have made a huge impact on me. It’s hard to just name one professor because I will take so many lessons from multiple profs with me once I leave the hill. Within the dance department alone, there are four professors who have had a tremendously positive influence on my life while here at Gustavus. Sarah Hauss has taught me that life and dance can be funny sometimes – it just depends on the way you choose to approach it. Sarah has also helped develop and further my love for teaching dance and she has heightened my excitement for sharing the joy of dance with young people in her dance pedagogy class. Michele is another professor who has had a great influence on my life. She has continuously offered her insight into the balance of life with me and is helping me navigate where I want my life and career to go next after Gustavus. I’m incredibly grateful for her mentorship and continuous support.

Another influential teacher is Jill Patterson. Jill has helped me find and develop strength in my body, mind, and movement. Through her teachings, she has also helped push me to explore movement qualities I might have not otherwise explored on my own and overall, my confidence in my movement abilities has increased significantly in her classes throughout the years. And while I have felt pushed and challenged in her classes, I have also felt very supported every step of the way. Lastly, another significant professor during my time at Gustavus is Melissa Rolnick. I have learned so much about myself through her teachings, especially within her MEISA practice. Her practice and wisdom have allowed me to recognize my mental, emotional, and physical state while moving and it’s truly been a transformational and powerful experience that extends beyond a specific movement practice and into life itself, which in turn has bettered my well-being. 

Overall, it’s easy to say I have learned a lot while studying dance here at Gustavus – not just in dance history, technique, or composition, but I have learned a lot about myself as well, and for that, I am truly grateful. The faculty in the dance department have been outstanding supporters and mentors for me while on the hill and they have helped shape me into the person and dancer that I am (and still becoming). My time at Gustavus has been transformed by these outstanding instructors and by my fellow dancers, and I will hold their teachings close long after I leave the hill.


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